With 72 minutes on the clock, the thought occurred that Harry Kane had not had a lot service. It was partly as a result of the England captain was attempting to supply it for others, dropping again from his centre-forward’s place to select his passes.
It was time for Kane to take issues into his personal arms. The ball was labored to him on the prime of the midfield and, with little on and Poland gamers backing off him reasonably too respectfully, Kane unloaded with murderous intent.
The 30 yarder would have rearranged Jan Bednarek’s senses had it been barely decrease. As a substitute it flew over the centre-half earlier than dipping and fading viciously away from Wojciech Szczesny’s left hand and into the underside nook.
At that time, England appeared nicely set for the victory that may have nearly assured them of direct qualification to the finals of the Qatar World Cup subsequent yr. They’d come to manage the second half of this match and but there can be a twist.
First, there was a let-off when Jordan Pickford noticed an 82nd minute clearance charged down by the substitute, Karol Swiderski, though he was capable of get again and clear. Wasn’t he alleged to have eradicated these lapses?
After which, on the very demise, with Poland pushing and England struggling to clear their traces, the house crowd bought the second that they had come for. Robert Lewandowski customary a stunning cross from the left and, arriving like a bullet practice, was the substitute, Damian Szymanski, to crash a header dwelling. The celebrations exploded like a firecracker. Poland had wanted one thing right here, greater than England and, though it was not victory, it was one thing. Their hopes of discovering a approach to Qatar, almost certainly by way of the play-offs, stay alive.
The clock is ticking loudly for the World Cup finals and England knew that they’d not face harder opposition than this Poland workforce for the rest of the calendar yr. Their last qualifiers are available in October and November in opposition to Andorra, Hungary, Albania and San Marino. Thereafter there are simply three worldwide get-togethers earlier than the primary ties in Qatar. Which feels a bit of loopy.
Poland had severely pushed England at Wembley final March, taking a grip on the tie within the second half earlier than Harry Maguire’s late winner settled it. Southgate had preached his standard gospel of humility, even when there’s the sensation in these components that Paulo Sousa’s workforce flunked the Euros, beset as they had been by defensive frailties.
There are errors on this workforce and there have been sharp intakes of breath from the house assist in the course of the first half when, for instance, Kamil Glik surrendered possession to Kalvin Phillips in a harmful space. Or Bednarek was tricked by a Kane nutmeg because the England captain launched a counter-attack. Each strikes got here to nothing.
This magnificent enviornment was packed to the rafters and it was good to listen to the bulk applaud the British anthem earlier than kick-off. Much less welcome had been the raucous jeers that poured down from each stand when England’s gamers took the knee. At that second, Lewandowski pointed to the respect emblem on his shirt. A category act.
It was clear on the outset that the partisan crowd would play their half, elevating their gamers and placing strain on the referee, Daniel Siebert. His choice to e book Phillips early on for what appeared like an unintended contact on Tymoteusz Puchacz felt alarming from an England perspective. Phillips needed to tread a tightrope. There can be moments when England wished free-kicks for fouls and didn’t get them – Jack Grealish, specifically, feeling that his markers nibbled at him reasonably too usually – and tempers had been by no means too removed from boiling level.
John Stones had heated phrases for Lewandowksi when the Poland striker went to floor as Southgate’s workforce held a excessive line of defense on an early free-kick and Maguire felt the pink mist descend after the half-time whistle when gamers from either side got here collectively. Maguire was incandescent and he needed to be held again. Each he and Glik had been booked.
Declan Rice was an authoritative presence throughout a frenzied opening 20 minutes when it was a time for England to dig in, to maintain Poland at arm’s size, which they largely managed to do. For the entire dwelling workforce’s willpower and physicality, they solely flickered as soon as earlier than the interval when Karol Linetty lobbed by means of for Lewandowski and he bought in entrance of Kyle Walker. The end was tame.
England’s finest second of a restricted first-half crop got here when Raheem Sterling blasted previous Puchacz to cross however Kane, in behind Glik, couldn’t get route on his header.
A function of the primary half was the sight of Kane dropping deep to attempt to set the play; at one level, he floated out in the direction of the right-back place, the place he took a heavy contact and virtually allowed Poland to interrupt. England wanted to higher calibrate their attacking choices within the second half as a result of it was clear that Sterling had the beating of Puchacz and Grealish’s runs with the ball had been latently menacing.
England took greater beginning positions; they pressed tougher onto the entrance foot. They had been capable of create overloads on the flanks and the tone shifted. There was much less for the vociferous hordes to rally behind, even when the noise didn’t cease. Grealish despatched a cross-cum-shot simply previous the far put up and England’s hearts jumped when Maguire rose to direct a header from Luke Shaw’s free-kick in opposition to the far put up. Sterling was flagged offside when he chased the rebound.